As talk of law enforcement reform continues to swirl in the aftermath of the Department of Justice's Ferguson report, some communities have quietly made progress in addressing how police interact with students. Traditionally, police stepped on sch
News and Events: May 2015
For years, Franky Price terrified his teachers.
As a third-grader, he pantomimed killing other students by sliding his finger across his throat. In fourth grade, he swore at anyone who angered him. The worst moment came one month into fifth grade, after Franky wrote down his violent fantasies.
He never planned to act on any of them, but the behavior alarmed educators enough to get him suspended from elementary school, then expelled — placing him among the thousands of children statewide and across the country who are removed annually from elementary-school classrooms.
To Franky, the punishments barely registered. Raised in a family of drug users and dealers, he wandered with them from one dingy apartment to the next. Often, there was no bed to sleep on and nothing but plastic covering the windows.
Franky never told anyone. He knew it would mean foster care.
Oakland Unified will become one of a handful of California school districts that restrict suspensions to more serious offenses and eliminate the punishment for willful defiance — a broad category of misbehavior that includes minor offenses such as refusing to take a hat off or ignoring teacher requests to stop texting and more severe incidents like swearing at a teacher or storming out of class.